Police have arrested eight employees of a timber company involved in a riot in Tonggu county, Jiangxi province , last week that injured more than a dozen people, including government officials and police officers, according to mainland media reports. Three other suspects were still on the run following the clashes on Thursday night and Friday that reportedly stemmed from a dispute over the timber company's compensation to villagers for damage to forests. Xinhua quoted a county police officer as saying that three of those injured in the riots were in a critical condition but denied online accounts that many people had died. Daduan town Communist Party secretary Lu Baiyi said the violence was not an accident. 'Deep disagreement had built up between the villagers and the company. The incident was a total breakdown,' Mr Lu was quoted by the China News Service as saying. Mr Lu said a truck from the Luhai Forestry Company was stopped at a security checkpoint set up by Shuanghong villagers on Thursday night, and when villagers did not open the gate promptly, more than 10 company employees jumped out of the vehicle, broke the lock and destroyed the outpost. Hearing the noise, more villagers rushed to the site, prompting the company employees to call in more than 30 men wielding long knives and iron bars. Mr Lu said town officials tried to pacify the villagers and almost convinced them to back off, but a number of company employees reignited the fight and hit the villagers with long knives, stones and iron bars. A farmer's ear was chopped off, and town head Shuai Jiang was knocked unconscious. The next morning, more than 150 villagers marched to the county government calling for justice. When they passed the company headquarters, they besieged it and a riot erupted. Police arrived and failed to fend off the angry crowd, which soon grew to more than 1,000. Armed with rocks and pieces of wood, rioters attacked the headquarters and police and overturned a number of vehicles. Nearly 90 per cent of Tonggu is wooded, a high proportion even in forest-rich Jiangxi province. Luhai, a company with only 80 employees, paid farmers 3,000 yuan (HK$3,400) per hectare in 2004 for more than 5,000 hectares of recently planted forest, according to unofficial accounts.